An iceberg the size of Delaware and containing twice as much water as Lake Erie broke off from an ice shelf in Antarctica this week, but experts say the event is part of the natural processes and not linked to climate change.
The calving of the iceberg occurred between Monday and Wednesday, but the crack had been forming on the Larsen C ice shelf over the last several years.
The iceberg, which will likely be designated A68, is 2,200 square miles, making it one of the largest ever recorded, USA Today reported.
The breakage caused Larsen C to lose 12 percent of its size.
Martin O’Leary — a glaciologist at Swansea University working with the Project Midas, which has been monitoring Larsen C — said the creation of the iceberg is not evidence of global warming.
“Although this is a natural event, and we’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change,” he said. “This puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position. This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history.”
Larsen C Ice Shelf was 4th largest ice shelf in the world (48,600 km²); having just lost 12% of its total area, it’s now the 5th largest pic.twitter.com/YJjgrARFSa
— The Antarctic Report (@AntarcticReport) July 12, 2017
Fellow Project Midas team member Adrian Luckman, also with Swansea University, said the future of the ice shelf is uncertain.
“In the ensuing months and years, the ice shelf could either gradually regrow, or may suffer further calving events which may eventually lead to collapse,” Luckman said. “Opinions in the scientific community are divided. Our models say it will be less stable, but any future collapse remains years or decades away.”
Luckman stated that “recent data from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography actually show most of the shelf thickening.”
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) July 12, 2017
A 2015 NASA study found Antarctica has been experiencing a net gain in ice mass in recent decades.
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